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Asylum-seekers at unofficial border points will be returned to the United States to protect against the spread of COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday. The policy change comes after an agreement was reached with the U.S., and suspends the previous federal policy, announced a day earlier, of putting all irregular border-crossers in quarantine for 14 days. Trudeau acknowledged that these temporary measures are “exceptional” and did not rule out a stricter lockdown.
People who have already crossed the border will remain in isolation in this country, said federal Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair, who added that the government would make few exceptions in coming weeks. As of midnight, Canada’s border with the U.S. closed to all non-essential travel, such as tourism or cross-border shopping.
Industries mobilize to produce medical supplies
As the number of cases of COVID-19 continued to increase across the country, the federal government announced measures to scale up production of medical supplies. The initiative will encourage existing medical manufacturers to accelerate production, as well as support other types of companies to retool their facilities to produce much-needed equipment such as ventilators and masks. Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains commended the initiative of firms such as Toronto’s Spirit of York Distilleries, which has pivoted to producing hand sanitizer instead of alcoholic beverages.
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The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario last night announced that it had reached tentative deals with the province, the Ontario Public School Boards' Association, and the Council of Trustees' Associations. The union, which represents 83,000 teachers, said it is suspending strike action immediately pending ratification votes. The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, which reached a tentative deal a few weeks ago, is holding ratification votes next month. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens remain without a deal.
Ontario launches e-learning program
A new e-learning program will help Ontario children who are missing classes because schools are closed due to the pandemic, Premier Doug Ford said yesterday in his daily news briefing at Queen’s Park. Dubbed Learn at Home, the initiative uses resources from TVO and TFO to provide K-12 e-learning modules that are "teacher-led, interactive and bilingual."
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the online portal is designed to fight learning loss as a result of school closures, which originally were scheduled to last for the two weeks after March Break. Neither Lecce nor Ford ruled out extending the closure past April 5, saying they would heed the advice of public health officials, but Lecce stressed that graduation for the class of 2020 would not be disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Health officials urge caution during ‘critical period’
Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, David Williams, warned Friday that the province is entering the “critical period” of the outbreak. Over the next five to seven days, many Canadians will be returning from their March Break holidays abroad and cases of COVID-19 are expected to surface in greater numbers. Williams commended the commitment to social distancing he has seen over the past few days, and encouraged people not to be “casual” about official advice to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Toronto’s medical officer of health, Eileen De Villa, echoed his comments, saying: “I encourage everyone to stay home.”
As of yesterday evening, Ontario had 318 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Health officials said they were performing an average of 3,000 tests daily and nearly 20,000 tests had been completed province-wide.
TVO.org publishing daily COVID-19 roundup
Every day, TVO.org will publish a collection of news items from across the province about the pandemic. Please visit TVO.org for the latest. Here isFriday evening’s edition.
We begin by looking at how to separate coronavirus fact from fiction. André Picard, a health reporter and columnist at The Globe and Mail, then provides context to the messages coming from the country’s health authorities. We also get tips on budgeting during this unprecedented pandemic and consider how Canada’s economy could recover from it.
Two documentaries from TVO’s Housing Gap series tell very different stories about the housing crisis. Airbnb: Dream or Nightmare?examines the dark side of short-term rental apps, from fraudulent landlords and nightmare tenants to broader rental-market implications. And Priced Out, using Portland — one of America’s least diverse cities — as a case study, reveals how access to housing can be a racialized issue.
In 1918, as the war effort challenged food production domestically, a propaganda poster for the Canada Food Board declared that “patriotic Canadians will not hoard food” — and new regulations were rolled out to enforce that message. Ontario history writer Jamie Bradburn takes us back to the time of the First World War to help understand why people’s anxiety in a crisis leads them to empty grocery-store shelves.
During the 2003 SARS outbreak in Toronto, David Kaplan was chief resident in family medicine at North York General Hospital. Southwestern Ontario Hub reporter Mary Baxter talks to Kaplan about the issues facing family physicians during the coronavirus pandemic and the challenges of providing care for people in the shelter system.
This weekend on TVO
Saturday, 9 p.m. — Bobby Sands: 66 Days
After two decades of violence and unrest, the situation in Northern Ireland took a profound turn in 1981 when Irish republicans, led by Bobby Sands, began a prison hunger strike. In the 66 days that he refused food, Sands was elected to the British Parliament, brought the Irish republican struggle to the global stage, and paid the ultimate price for his political convictions.
Sunday, 9 p.m. — River Silence
As Ontario fights the spread of COVID-19, what lessons from the 2003 SARS epidemic have informed the decisions being made to the Belo Monte Dam, one of the world's biggest and most controversial infrastructure projects, is causing massive ecological and social devastation along Brazil's Xingu River, a major tributary of the Amazon River, which is the lifeblood to one of the world's most diverse ecosystems. Director Rogerio Soares follows four women whose lives and families have been profoundly changed.